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Sector News, 27 - 31 October 2008

Be wary of market forces in education.  Education Guardian, 28 October 2008.

Opinion – Estelle Morris – pro vice-chancellor University of Sunderland

There are various shades of opinion about private sector activity within education. At one extreme are those who believe that any private sector activity is a betrayal of education principles and ‘the thin end of the wedge’ towards out and out commercialism, at the other end are those who believe central control inhibits progress. Estelle Morris ‘walks’ the central ground between these two extremes and warns of too much of a swing towards private sector control.  She cites the development of the city technology colleges, who despite being lauded as institutions which would be free from central control, now are more controlled than most schools.

Hats off to the new recruits.  Education Guardian, 28 October 2008.

It makes little sense for the Government to state openly that apprenticeships are good for the country, if they do not take part themselves.  Thus for the first time, that anyone can remember, Whitehall is taking on apprentices.  The new apprentices are called “pathfinder” and the anticipated target of 500 has already been exceeded.

Diplomas offer scant hope of an end to the great divide.  Education Guardian, 28 October 2008.

Comment, Martin Allen and Patrick Ainley.

The duo have doubts about the success of the 14-19 Diploma.  Lack of open support by the CBI, the Conservatives and some awarding bodies, makes them fear for the Diploma’s future.  They cite concerns in schools about losing students to colleges, worries about employer participation and a lack of local arrangements for delivery apparent in a number of authorities.

News in Brief.  The Independent, 30 October 2008.

Within the “News in Brief” section this week is a short article on the growing demand by young people to take Maths, Science and Physics at A level.

Unwelcome complements.  THE, 30 October 2008.

The cover story highlights that a bitter argument is underway between those who see degrees in complementary medicines as mumbo-jumbo and those who are passionate about complementary approaches to health.   This is a lengthy article giving the arguments for both sides of the debate along with figures for entrants to the complementary medicine degrees.

See also A suitable subject for teaching?

Britain’s challenges can be developed into Europe’s strengths.  THE, 30 October 2008.

Whilst the UK can have a large part to play in assuring that the Bologna Process works, we are once again in danger of removing ourselves from a major European development.  The Bologna accord is an agreement to weld Europe’s various HE systems into one compatible system.   Anne Corbett, visiting fellow at the European Institute, London School of Economics fears that the UK will make a huge mistake if it does not welcome the accord enthusiastically.

Lammy’s verdict: still a long way to go on access.  THE, 30 October 2008.

David Lammy, Minister of State for Higher Education, expresses the view that there is still much work to do if we are to further improve access to universities.

Who funds equal access?  THE, 30 October 2008.

It is difficult for even enlightened employers to support those with a disability because they can never be sure what commitment is required.  THE comment on a disabled student suing his university for loss of dignity because they failed to provide access to the stage during the degree ceremony.

Feeding a fine hunger.  THE 30 October 2008.

Frank Furedi – professor of Sociology – University of Kent.

“To be a successful teacher you have to take students seriously”, and “I [Frank] do mean seriously. Undergraduates are young adults who possess the potential for self-direction and autonomous inquiry.  Yet we are often told [.] that they need support, support and more support”.  Frank continues by discussing the zeal for learning held by those from the most impoverished backgrounds and how personal development of the subject matter is important.

‘New teachers ill-equipped to deal with special needs pupils’.  TES 31 October 2008.

Innovations in training have failed to keep pace with changes in schools, especially with the integration of SEN into mainstream.  Teacher training, it is argued, needs an overhaul if new teachers are to be given the skills they require to recognise and support children with special needs.

Bonanza as job training cuts out the middlemen.  TES, FE Focus, 31 October 2008.

Employers have approached colleges to create training packages, only to be told that they have to work through an intermediary.  All too often this process is administrative and a step too far for employers who withdraw from discussions.   Now a funding bonanza may help colleges to talk directly to employers without the need for a network of brokers.  (Train to Gain)

Jargon clogs FE work, says study.  TES, FE Focus, 31 October 2008.

With a story that will be instantly recognisable to most in FE, a report by the Learning and Skills Network (LSN) makes the point that many who work in FE have difficulty understanding Government communication because it is full of acronyms and impenetrable jargon.

Pressing need for vocational advice.  TES, FE Focus 31 October 2008. Comment - Kate Shoesmith, Senior Manager, City and Guilds Centre for Skills Development London.

Responding to a recently published article in FE Focus (24 October), Kate Shoesmith shares Andy Powell’s belief that we are in need of ‘vocational signposts’ and for effective, impartial and comprehensive information, advice and guidance for young people.

Raising the profile of lifelong learning.  TES, FE Focus, 31 October 2008. Comment – Ann Walker regional director, WEA Yorkshire & Humberside

Short comment in favour of supporting adult education, and expressing the opinion that John Denham has shown more interest in Lifelong Learning than any of his predecessors.